Actress Sienna Miller revealed in a recent interview how Chadwick Boseman reduced the Hollywood gender pay gap so she could earn what she deserves for her role as Detective Frankie Burns on the 2019 movie 21 Bridges.
“He produced 21 Bridges, and had been really active in trying to get me to do it,” Miller tells Empire. “He was a fan of my work, which was thrilling because it was reciprocated from me to him tenfold. So he approached me to do it, he offered me this film, and it was at a time when I really didn‘t want to work anymore. I’d been working non-stop, and I was exhausted, but then I wanted to work with him.”
The 38-year-old actress said she was hesitant to share her experience working alongside the late actor; however, she concluded that it was important to let the world know how selfless he was. “I didn’t know whether or not to tell this story, and I haven’t yet. But I am going to tell it, because I think it’s a testament to who he was,” Miller says. “This was a pretty big-budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to. And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school, and it was an inconvenient time, I said, ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way.’ And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”
The action thriller film, starred and produced by Boseman, had a $33 million budget and grossed $49 million worldwide.
The New York native said it was “the most astounding thing that” she had ever experienced. “That kind of thing just doesn‘t happen. He said, ‘You’re getting paid what you deserve, and what you’re worth.’ It’s just unfathomable to imagine another man in that town behaving that graciously or respectfully,” she said. “In the aftermath of this, I’ve told other male actor friends of mine that story, and they all go very very quiet and go home and probably have to sit and think about things for a while. But there was no showiness, it was, ‘Of course I’ll get you to that number because that’s what you should be paid.’”
According to a study conducted by economists Sofia Izquierdo Sanchez, of Huddersfield University, John S Heywood, of Wisconsin University, and Maria Navarro Paniagua, of Lancaster University, male Hollywood actors earn $1.1m more per film than their female co-stars. As reported by The Guardian, the experts analyzed the wages of 246 male and female actors who were featured in 1,343 films between 1980 and 2015. “The gap has been quite persistent,” Izquierdo Sanchez said. “It is almost the same in 2015 as it was in 1980. It doesn’t show any signs of improving.”
The economists also revealed that different factors could impact the salaries of a highly experienced actress. If she did not earn awards or is not very popular on social media, she could get paid 56% ($2.2m) less than their male counterparts. “We were thinking that we would find a gap because so many actresses have been bringing the issue up,” Izquierdo Sanchez said. “But we were surprised to find so much of a gap, especially as we were talking about actors of the highest level, like Meryl Streep .”